Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: The Last Letter From Your Lover

Summary: A sophisticated, page-turning double love story spanning forty years-an unforgettable Brief Encounter for our times.

It is 1960. When Jennifer Stirling wakes up in the hospital, she can remember nothing-not the tragic car accident that put her there, not her husband, not even who she is. She feels like a stranger in her own life until she stumbles upon an impassioned letter, signed simply "B", asking her to leave her husband.

Years later, in 2003, a journalist named Ellie discovers the same enigmatic letter in a forgotten file in her newspaper's archives. She becomes obsessed by the story and hopeful that it can resurrect her faltering career. Perhaps if these lovers had a happy ending she will find one to her own complicated love life, too. Ellie's search will rewrite history and help her see the truth about her own modern romance.

A spellbinding, intoxicating love story with a knockout ending, The Last Letter from Your Lover will appeal to the readers who have made One Day and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society bestsellers. --Pamela Dorman/Viking

I've come to expect great things from Pamela Dorman books so it was no surprise that I was drawn to THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER by JoJo Moyes. I thought the book's description sounded good, but when I started to read the reviews that were coming in, I knew I had to read it. THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER received a starred review from Kirkus, and the blurbs from some of the my favorite authors just sealed the deal. I probably don't have to tell you that I had high hopes for this novel!

Based on my experiences recently with being let down after having high expectations for a book, I was a little worried that THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER would disappoint. But, I had no need to worry -- I loved this novel. And if I'm being totally honest, it could have been a book that didn't work for me. I'm not a big fan of romance novels, and while I wouldn't classify this book as one, two of the main story lines centered around love affairs. However, everything in this novel was so well done --  from the time period, to the setting, to the character development, to the writing, etc. And as a result, this review is probably going to sound to be a little over-the-top because I really, really enjoyed this book.

THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER spans 40 years and tells the story of two love affairs -- one that takes place in the 1960s and one that takes place in 2003. The first part of the novel deals with the story of Jennifer Stirling, a young and beautiful woman who is married to a very wealthy man. When Jennifer wakes up after a horrible accident, she finds that she can't remember anything -- even her husband. (Yes, it's another book with amnesia as a theme!) As she tries to figure out things about her past, she discovers a batch of letters from her lover signed only with a "B." She has no clue as to the identity of this man and she attempts to discover who he is, and in the process, learns more about herself.

Fast forward forty years to Ellie's story. Ellie a a journalist who has been having an affair with a best-selling author who just happens to be married. When she discovers Jennifer's old love letters in the newspaper's archives, she becomes obsessed with discovering what happened to these two lovers. Subconsciously, she hopes that if she can learn that these two people had a happy ending, then there is hope for her own relationship.

I just loved everything about this book! I was extremely impressed with Ms. Moyes' writing style; and I thought her character development was terrific. She definitely captured the essence of each woman and her involvement in the love affair; however, she also did a wonderful job of showing their insecurities and vulnerabilities. In addition, I thought her prose was beautiful and the book was actually very readable -- I was surprised by how quickly they story moved. However, what I think most impressed me about Ms. Moyes' writing was how she decided to tell this story. I loved the format of the novel -- being able to "meet" each woman and discover their thoughts and feelings. And then I really enjoyed how their lives came together towards the end of the novel.

I can't express how much I became caught up in these characters' lives. When Jennifer's section of the story ended, I felt as if I were left hanging because I didn't know what happened to her. So when Ellie's portion of the story picks up 40 years later and she begins looking for Jennifer, I felt as if I was fully vested in Ellie's search. I was dying to know if Jennifer was able to have a happy ending (or at the very least, if she stayed with her husband.) So in many ways, THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER was almost a mystery of sorts as Ellie searched for Jennifer and her lover.

Needless to say, I think THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER would make an excellent book club pick. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a formal guide anywhere on-line; however, I wouldn't let that deter you from picking it. In fact, I have a feeling that a reader's guide will be available in the very near future. It's just too perfect for book clubs for there not to be questions! I'm confident in saying that most readers will thoroughly enjoy the story and I think this novel will stimulate a lot of thought. Some of the issues that you might want to explore include adultery, marriage problems, parenting, friendships, guilt, loss, lost love, romance, and happiness. 

I absolutely adored THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER and I think it's a perfect summer read. It has lots of romance and even a bit of a mystery. It's definitely a must-read as far as I'm concerned!

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel. Make sure you stop by on Friday because Ms. Moyes will be joining me with a fantastic guest post!

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel.


Anonymous said...

This sounds lovely! I adore the cover, too. Like that it's a comfy gray with snuggles. ;O)

Sandy Nawrot said...

I'm not a big fan of the sweeping romance novel either, but this one really sounds appealing. Ha! Maybe I'm turning soft! I do allow myself some pleasure reads in the summer, so if it throws itself in my path I'll grab it!

Beth Hoffman said...

I never read ANYTHING that's even remotely romantic, but you've piqued my interest in this book. It sounds like a terrific story.

Wonderful review, Julie!

Swapna said...

You know I don't love romance either, but your enthusiasm for this book really makes me want to pick it up!

bermudaonion said...

You know how I feel about romance novels, but I do think there's a difference in a love story and a romance novel, if that makes any sense at all. The fact that this is a Pamela Dorman book and you've endorsed it, make me want to read it.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Wow, this sounds great! I was so afraid, when reading the synopsis, that you would say, oh, but it turned out to disappoint me! I'm so glad it didn't because it sounds like I would love it!

Anonymous said...

I'm so happy to read your review. I have this on my Nook but wasn't quite sure about it. Now, I think I'm very excited about it.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

I'm interested in this book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. It sounds like something I'd really like.

Karlie said...

Sounds like a good one even if it does have some romance!

Marg said...

I really loved this book when I read it earlier this year. Moyes manages to take a difficult subject to read about (infidelity) and makes it is a very compelling and enjoyable read.

Have you read other Moyes books? I really enjoyed her book The Ship of Brides as well.

Kailana said...

I keep looking at Moyes, but have not actually decided to read her yet. She seems to be an author that goes over well, so maybe I should bite the bullet and see what I think.